Complaint letter filed with the court confirms that police arrested Frontier managing editor Danny Fenster because they believed he was working at Myanmar Now, despite him having resigned from the media outlet in July 2020.
Frontier managing editor Danny Fenster was arrested at Yangon International Airport last month because police believed he was still working for Myanmar Now, according to documents filed to a special court in Insein Prison where his case is being heard.
Danny resigned as an editor of Myanmar Now in July 2020 and joined Frontier the following month as magazine editor.
He was arrested on May 24, shortly before he was due to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur, from where he planned to travel home to the United States to see his family.
A 37-year-old American citizen, he has been held in Yangon’s Insein Prison since his arrest. He has had two consular calls but has not been allowed any face-to-face visitors.
A March 27 complaint letter from the Criminal Investigation Department to the Pabedan Township police station requested the station chief to open a criminal case against the “responsible editors” of Myanmar Now under section 505-A of the Penal Code. The letter was contained in the police case file presented to the court in Insein Prison.
Myanmar’s military regime banned Myanmar Now and four other independent media organisations on March 8. The same day police and soldiers raided Myanmar Now’s office in downtown Yangon. The outlet has continued to publish online despite the ban.
Danny appeared in court for a second time today, where he was represented by lawyer U Than Zaw Aung. The judge remanded Danny for another two weeks, with the next hearing scheduled for July 15.
Frontier believes Danny has done nothing wrong and we reiterate our call for his immediate and unconditional release.
The documents in Danny’s case file just further underscore why he should be freed immediately.
We also urge the authorities to speed up the legal process so the case can be withdrawn as soon as possible.
The section 505-A charge was introduced to the Penal Code through an amendment on February 14 and has been widely used against journalists, activists and social media users.
It targets anyone who “causes or intends to cause fear to a group of citizens or to the public”, “causes or intends to spread false news, knowing or believing that it is untrue”, or “causes or intends to commit or to agitate directly or indirectly criminal offence against a Government employee, any kind of Government employees or Government employees”.
Those convicted face a prison term of up to three years, a fine, or both.